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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mercy!

With Real Life (tm) doing so intrusive of late, I don't get much "original content" posted. So, I thought I'd share this comment I recently made on the blog Malcolm.the.Cynic:
More than one commenter here is approaching salvation as a matter of justice -- as being somehow our due -- when, in fact, salvation is a matter of mercy: our salvation is the act of God in setting aside the justice we do deserve: Death, to give us what we do not deserve: Life.

We *all* are sinners, even the new-born babe who has committed no particular sin; we are all born into sin, which is Death: we are all *born* "going straight to Hell", as people say. We *none of us* deserve to be saved from the Death into which we are born.

Much of the worrying about "But what about people who have never heard of Christ?" and "But what about stillbirths?" and "But what about suicides?" and "OK, but what about mentally-ill suicides?" and so on (without end) is founded upon the disinclination, or even outright refusal, to trust that God is merciful.
To expand upon that last: a significant portion of such worryings and speculations is really just a round-about way of obliging God to rescue oneself from the Death with which one is already infected; that is, to somehow make one's own salvation into a matter of Justice, rather than of Mercy. And this is just another way of refusing to take the first step upon the actual road to salvation, which is to acknowledge the justice of one's (current) state of condemnation and to humble oneself before God and ask for and accept his Mercy.

But, *who* -- if not God himself -- is going to enforce this obligation one imagines one has placed upon God? If one will not trust in the Mercy God has openly proclaimed -- if one will not trust God to do what he says he will do without obligation -- then how can one trust in his Justice (especially a "justice" arrived at through some imagined trickery), when he is the only guarantor of Justice?

When you think about it, much of such worryings and speculations is really not all that different from the Internet Atheist who raises, say, the (hyperbolic) Ban on the Amalekites as a means by which to impeach God's righteousness -- "Who are *you* to judge Me!" -- even as he himself endorses and supports (and perhaps directly participates in) the murders via abortion and other forms of infanticide of millions of innocent human beings every year. For to ask or accept mercy is simultaneously to acknowledge the justice of one's current state of judgment-and-condemnation and the authority of he-who-judges to make the judgment and issue the condemnation.

4 comments:

malcolmthecynic said...

I largely agree with this (and I'm sorry for getting to this post late). The discussion of what sin is and isn't moral should in theory amount to little more than an intellectual exercise, since we shouldn't be committing any sins anyway. It is indeed a danger, and especially (though not exclusively) among Catholics, to turn the concept of mortal and venial sins into a matter of figuring out what God owes us.

You are correct. God owes us nothing. If He decided not to let me into Heaven He would be being perfectly just.

In the end we're all sinners, and what happens to everybody AFTER we die is really none of our damn business.

Now, preaching the Gospel, doing good works, and warning people of their fate if they don't repent? That IS our business. But the final decision is God's business, and God's business only - something for which every single one of us should be profoundly thankful for.

malcolmthecynic said...

("Moral" should be "mortal"...a rather important typo!)

Ilíon said...

"(and I'm sorry for getting to this post late)"

Not a problem.

"I largely agree with this ..."

That implies that you don't fully agree. What do you not fully agree with? Perhaps I can improve the thinking, or perhaps my choice of wording can be improved.

"It is indeed a danger ... to turn the concept of mortal and venial sins into a matter of figuring out what God owes us."

Or "what we can get away with". It's a variant of Legalism.

"It is indeed a danger, and especially (though not exclusively) among Catholics, to turn the concept of mortal and venial sins into a matter of figuring out what God owes us."

Since you bring it up, it seems to me that Catholicism and "High-church" Protestantism (especially those denominations which practice infant baptism) foster an attitude which turns the Sacraments, especially Baptism, into loopholes ... that is, into mistakes that God made in effectualizing his "plan" to condemn everyone to hell (*). "Sorry, God: you gave us Baptism ... so we get to "sneak" this one past you!"

(*) which is, of course, the very opposite of his plan and desire.

malcolmthecynic said...

Oh no, I can find nothing I disagree with. "Largely agree with" is just a commonly used phrase that I dropped in there without much thought.

There's some older stories of people getting death bed Baptisms in order to ensure their entrance into Heaven.